Act 5 Scene 1:
The time is 7:30 in the morning. The sun is shining across the beautiful Rocky Mountains providing an amazing view that has yet to grow old. Loading up onto the buses the course is set to travel east en route to Salida. Today’s journey will take the company, once again, across the Continental Divide. A fond farewell is bid to our wonderful hosts of Montrose as we hit the trail aboard our steel horses, “Colorado Gold” and “Hi Ho Silver”.
Following another enjoyable round of morning greetings, the breakfast and weather reports, Graham Taylor delivers the first monolog of the day bestowing the trials and tribulations of failing to consume enough water. Will the cast heed Graham’s warning? Stay tuned as this under current theme develops.
The buses climb Monarch Mountain to a height of 11,307 feet to cross the continental divide. Tidbit of trivia de jour: Aspen trees thrive above 7000 feet. The locals call them “Quakees” because of the way they shiver and shimmer in the breeze. The vein of the Aspen leaves appear gold from a distance.
Throughout the drive there are many places along the road without guardrails and the danger is evident from the number of cars scattered along the side of the mountain, rusting. Passing the gold, silver, copper and precious mineral mining camps, James (our Gold Bus transportation engineer) explains that if one discovers gold, a claim can be made to keep the mineral rights. Several times throughout the 3 hour drive we crossed the Arkansas River. James adds that there is a lot of gold found in that river.
Act 5 Scene 2:
Scene 1 fades out as scene 2 opens with the arrival in Salida. Following two trips around the block, for good measure, the buses reach Centennial Park & Pavilion. The troupe disembarks to enjoy Subway sandwiches, the new Ham on this tour, for lunch. (Writer’s note: Prior to the start of tour there is a mandatory potluck dinner. At this dinner Walt tells the story of Ham. The point driven home is that no matter what the host home, or church, serves accept it with graciousness and gratefulness, even if it is ham every night.) As bellies are filled, Karl Allen grabs his guitar to entertain the group with his version of the Beatles Blackbird and Swing Life Away by Rise Against. Changing into swimsuits most head indoors to the Salida Hot Springs Aquatic Center for a refreshing warm swim and an intense game of water polo. (Writer’s Note: viewing the pictures is highly recommended!) Those choosing to pass on the swimming are treated to a circus themed birthday party for a local little girl at the park, which included teaching the birthday girl and her friends how to do some aerial moves as well as walking on stilts. This scene draws to a conclusion as the group dries off and heads for Buena Vista, Colorado.
Act 5 Scene 3:
It is just shy of 4 pm as the buses roll into the Arkansas Valley Trail Rides parking lot in Buena Vista, Colorado. Buena Vista lives up to the name as the scenery is, of course, spectacular. The group is divided in half. Deborah Bowe and Kae Johnson dutifully remind all that sunscreen is a must and to stay hydrated.
A new character emerges from the wings. Mike, a Colorado cowboy sporting spurs as well as a black cowboy hat, grabs the attention of all with his western whoop. The chaperones look on in amazement as the group immediately responds to his command by lining up into two groups, one of 35 for their horse assignments and one of 36 for a trip around the area via horse drawn wagons. The first round of the trail ride goes off without a hitch, well, for the most part. Rose Hulcher is astride Max the Mule. Max, being a mule, is shorter than most of the horses on the ranch and all of the horses on the trail ride. As a result, Rose finds that her feet and the bottom of her pants are drenched by the end of the trail from crossing the river (several times). Everyone enjoys the view from atop their steed as the long train of trail riders travel over an hour up and down the hills through the Colorado woods.
Once the first trail ride has finished and the wagons have returned from their trip, Mike jumps into actions assigning group two their horse or mule. Sue Constantinides is all smiles as she mounts up on Amigo. The ranch hand assisting her shares that Amigo “is a friend to everyone”. It turns out that Amigo was not accepting applications for any new friends. Over halfway into the ride Amigo’s girth (the strap that fastens the saddle around the horse) becomes loose and as the saddle (and Sue) begins to slide sideways Amigo embraces his inner bucking bronco. Sue, as you probably guess, ends up on the ground. Slightly shaken and sore, Sue is able to rejoin the group for dinner. We are all thankful Sue did not need a trip to the hospital. Remember Max the Mule? Susan James was the benefactor of Max for the second ride. Susan’s experience was more in line with the stereotype of mules - stubborn. Susan reported that Max intentionally tried to hit every branch along the way. She was thankful to have a helmet. Susan also felt the cool water of the Arkansas River lap at her ankles as again, Max was, lets just say, vertically challenged.
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